Graduate Admissions Blog

10 Myths About the FAFSA and Applying for Financial Aid at Bank Street*

At Bank Street, we understand that many potential students see the cost of tuition of a graduate program and immediately feel “sticker shock” —they aren’t sure they can afford to make the financial commitment. We also understand that most of our potential applicants are not aware of how much their costs can actually be reduced by financial aid.

The only way to know is to apply and find out! You might be surprised at what Bank Street can offer. Please continue reading to learn about the top 10 myths about financial aid.

Each year, our Office of Financial Aid administers over $8.5 million in financial aid to students. More than 50% of our students receive financial aid, and incoming students who earn up to $80,000 a year (or significantly more for students with families) are likely to qualify for a need-based scholarship at Bank Street. Our scholarship program makes the cost of attending Bank Street Graduate School of Education competitive with most other private schools in the New York region.

So let’s start at the beginning. Simply put, financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance—tuition, fees, and expenses—and a student’s ability to pay that cost. Your need will be determined once you submit a federal FAFSA form. Next, Bank Street will review your financials and put together an offer for you—and you may be surprised that the “sticker shock” you initially felt is not your reality. We encourage you to not talk yourself out of reaching for your goals because of money. Instead, do the process and find out!

10 Myths About Financial Aid

MYTH 1: I/We make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.

FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. At Bank Street, institutional scholarships are need-based, but we set the funding levels based on current teacher salaries. Many other factors besides income—such as your family size and assets—are also taken into account.

TIP: Bank Street, like many schools, doesn’t even consider you for any of our scholarships until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!

MYTH 2: I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA form.

FACT: This is true. Graduate students are considered independent students for FAFSA purposes. As an independent student, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form.

TIP: Being an independent student makes the process very different from when you were an undergraduate. Again, don’t assume anything, just fill out the FAFSA and let the Office of Financial Aid work with you.

MYTH 3: I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA form.

FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of college or in October of the year before you plan to enroll. You must list at least one college (hopefully Bank Street) to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.

TIP: Did you forget to add Bank Street (or another school)? If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in and submit a correction.

MYTH 4: If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.

FACT: You still have options! Contact the Office of Financial Aid about appealing your offer. This is a process where you have the opportunity to explain to us why the information we received from the FAFSA is not the whole story. Give it a shot, we are good listeners.

TIP: If you’ve received federal and institutional aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, visit our external Scholarships Page, explore other scholarship or grant opportunities, or ask Bank Street about a payment plan and for help thinking it through.

MYTH 5: I should call “the FAFSA people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.

FACT: No, you’ll have to contact us. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid so they won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it—We do the disbursement. You’ll have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it.

NOTE: Keep in mind that as long as everything is in order, we typically process aid within 7 to 10 business days of your admissions decision.

MYTH 6: There’s only one FAFSA deadline and that’s not until June.

FACT: Nope! Bank Street has priority submission dates (February 1 for Summer Long/Summer 2/Fall and November 1 for Spring). If you submit your FAFSA by these dates, you will be given maximum consideration for scholarships. The FAFSA becomes available annually on October 1 for the following academic year.

TIP: Bank Street recommends that you complete the FAFSA as close to October 1 as possible. You can always update information throughout the academic year (but be sure to complete it by the last date of classes for the current academic year).

MYTH 7: I only have to fill out the FAFSA form once.

FACT: You must apply for financial aid every year you’re in graduate school. You must complete both the FAFSA and the Financial Aid Questionnaire yearly in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

MYTH 8: I can share an FSA ID with my loved ones.

FACT: No. An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain US Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites, such as the Federal Student Aid website.

TIP: Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!

MYTH 9: Only students with good grades get financial aid.

FACT: Bank Street’s award process is need-based. The College does not award aid based on grades or merit. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

MYTH 10: I have to accept what Bank Street offers me in aid.

FACT: No. Bank Street will provide an offer for what you are eligible for based on your need, the FAFSA form, and the cost of attendance for your program. This will come in the form of federal loans and possibly institutional aid (scholarships/grants). You can turn down part or all of the loans offered to you by indicating it on your offer letter and returning it to the Office of Financial Aid.

TIP: Speaking with Bank Street is a good first step in understanding your financial aid offer and your options. Please contact us as soon as possible with any questions or concerns.

So what’s next?

Go to the Federal Student Aid website and fill out the FAFSA application. If you applied to Bank Street and have been accepted, and you listed us on your FAFSA form, we will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic offer telling you how much aid you’re eligible to receive. We are partners in this process and hope to help you finance this investment in your future. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office (gradadmissions@bankstreet.edu) or the Office of Financial Aid (finaid@bankstreet.edu) with any questions or needs.

*This article was adapted from 9 Myths About the FAFSA Form and Applying for Financial Aid